Dental implants are increasingly becoming a popular alternative to dentures and bridges.
Tooth-supported fixed bridge. The most common alternative to dental implants for a single tooth, fixed bridges involve grinding away – in other words, intentionally damaging – healthy adjacent teeth that are used to attach and support the bridge. The tooth-supported bridge does not stimulate natural bone growth beneath it, so the bone may deteriorate over time. Bridges generally fail after 5-10 years because patient have difficulty flossing them, which makes the root surfaces below and around the bridgework highly susceptible to decay.
Removable partial dentures. Although these don't require grinding down adjacent teeth, they are not nearly as stable or comfortable as dental implants and can affect speech and eating. This type of restoration is less expensive but doesn’t look as natural or function as well as an implant-supported crowns. The bone underneath a removable partial denture may deteriorate over time, changing the appearance of your smile and face.
Removable complete denture. This denture sits on top of the gums where the missing teeth were. It can be uncomfortable, affect your ability to experience the full taste of food, cause sore gums, and shift and click in your mouth when you speak, eat, smile, yawn or cough. While the initial costs are low, they only last an average of 7 to 15 years, and the replacement costs can be significant over the long term. They need to be removed regularly for cleaning, which can be a time-consuming hassle. Also, as with a partial denture, the natural bone underneath a complete denture may deteriorate over time, permanently changing the appearance of your smile and face.
For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging. In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.
To receive implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. You must also commit to keeping these structures healthy. Meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.